License to Compute?

Ok, so here is the slashdot story: Crime Expert Backs Call For “License To Compute”.
As always, read the friggin’ original article first. Done? Please proceed.

When I saw this, my initial reaction was “the Australian government and their cyberidiocy, at it again”. But then I double checked, thought about it, and changed my mind. The keyword in the article is EDUCATION.

Sure, requiring that people earn a Computer License is absurd. But what if we actually push for regulation that forces more people to undertake some kind of educational program? Giving people a secure browser, and sending them out into the wild does not make it safer for them without telling them how to use it properly, first.

Questions: How much harder can we make it for the crims to get hold of credit card numbers when people are more informed. Depends on the degree of informed, I guess? Also, criminals adapt; make it harder for them to get what they want and they will only try harder in return. But it is a start.

Also, what kind of regulation would actually be beneficial? Requiring that everyone take some kind of course at school? The most vulnerable people are not in school anymore! How about this: pass regulation that if a person is caught up in a cybercrime fraud, that they take full responsibility (ie. the bank does not have to cover for them) unless they take such a course.

What do you think?

peace out.

You must vaccinate

Charl does such a good job of explaining this, I will simply point you to his blog: You must vaccinate

Go and read it now, if you have any doubts about this.

When you come back, and in case you have any more questions, here are my Guidelines to World Domination for Dummies:

  1. Pay money to unscrupulous researcher to produce a paper showing that XXX is going to (a) kill/maim/destroy (b) us/the earth/the economy/our children.
    Note: the more vague and speculatory the paper, the better!
  2. Make sure the media gets hold of it.
  3. Profit! *

You get bonus points if XXX is something that we have been doing for ages, and has a good side to it too. Also, bonus if there is nothing that we can really do about it.
That makes it seem even more certain to actually exist and be EVIL!

* Please note that even though Profit! may only be the satisfaction of seeing stupid celebrities take up “the cause” and their idiot fans following them to their doom, for some human-looking predators this is all the reward that they will ever need.

However, in most cases Profit! always means that someone is making Money!
You can dead be sure of that.

peace out

Blogged with the Flock Browser

hacking the plush

Via the Make Blog comes this video about a group of English girls who are introduced to the Arduino, and do some cool stuff with it.

Hold on, you say, given the concepts of

  1. microprocessor
  2. electronics,
  3. programming and
  4. young girls,

which is the odd one out?

However, the video shows the girls getting started, from scratch, with a basic introduction of what is possible with the Arduino, to developing an idea (or scenario, as they call it) which they would like to build themselves, to learning all the ins and outs of the construction, and in the end even getting to grips with programming, and ending up with a completed project!

For those of you who don’t know, the Arduino is a physical computing platform (which basically means a microprocessor that sits between your computer and an electronic circuit that you design). The magic of the platform lies in its low cost and the ease with which you can create interactive electronic projects ranging from the very simple to the amazingly complex.

This just goes to show how accessible electronics have become, and I hope we see more of this kind of thing in the future.

peace out

flabbergasted, as an aside

I was following a breadcrumb trail today on the subject of the Ray Kurzweil movie Transcendental Man.

On the wikipedia page for Mr. Kurzweil, I read a quote from Douglas Hofstadter who said the following about Kurzweil (and Hans Moravec),

“It’s as if you took a lot of very good food and some dog excrement and blended it all up so that you can’t possibly figure out what’s good or bad. It’s an intimate mixture of rubbish and good ideas, and it’s very hard to disentangle the two, because these are smart people; they’re not stupid.”

I am sorry, but I find that quote as ironic in the extreme. Especially from someone who puts Goedel, Escher and Bach into a blender along with some hokey pokey and hand waving, and then subsequently tries to finger paint a Picasso with the resulting mess.

peace out

popcorn time

So I’ve had the ‘flu for the last couple of days, and that means one thing: movie time!

Here’s the list I watched this time. Some of them old, some of them new:

The first three I have had ever since I started my DVD collection, and this must be the nth time I’ve watched them. Where nth is greater than 10.

But I love them. On my opinion of Ghost in the Shell, most people will agree with me – it was a groundbreaking film when it arrived on the scene, both in technical terms, as well as in its plethora of myths and ideas which it presented so well. And then it had the action and great story to back it all up.

Maybe not many people will agree with me about Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Metacritic seems a bit divided on the topic: It gets almost exactly 50%, with critics giving it the entire range of ratings, from 20% all the way to 80%. No surprise where I fall: this is an awesome film. True, the technology that was used to (try and) create the photorealistic images is dated – today we can do a lot better (of course, the question remains do we want to). But the movie does have a great story, and the fight/chase scenes are a lot more nailbiting than many “real-life” action films. The characters are all unique and have a true depth to them.

Outland is special. I think I saw this the first time on late-night television when I was in high-school. I’ll admit I was a bit let-down by the film at the time. I had grown up on a diet of Robotech and Star Wars, so space was more about high-speed action outside the airlock, and less about running around inside a space station. As such the film felt slow, and actually a little boring. But I remember it being a bit of a nailbiter in the end. So I picked up my current copy on DVD a couple of years ago, and every time I watch it I become more infatuated with the film. Connery portrays the lone outcast sheriff perfectly, even acting vulnerable and scared at the end. The stern doctor Lazarus (who reminds me more and more of the Haraway character from Ghost in the Shell: Innocence) is great, and the slimy Sheppard is the perfect bad guy: he knows that what he is doing is destroying lives, but he just does not care; according to him, that is the way of life.

I’ve wanted to watch The Wrestler for a while now. I am a bit of a Mickey Rourke fanboy. Whether Harley Davidson (and the Marlboro Man), 9½ Weeks, Sin City, Domino, I love the man’s style. And The Wrestler is good. A down-and-out movie, literally at the end of its tether. A lot like Buffalo ’66 (also starring Rourke) in that regard. Sad, but beautiful. I *almost* cried.

The thing that amazes me about Rourke is that not only does he seem to become each different character that he plays, he even looks different each time.

From the high to the low. Premonition is crap. Don’t even bother. Nothing happens in the movie. It is ridiculous. It does not even inspire the viewer to want anything to happen.

I’m in two camps with Traitor. On the one hand it tries to be another serious Middle-Eastern thriller. Blah blah blah. On the other hand it tries to add something new to the mix: the double-agent, but this time motivated by faith. So in the end it feels like a remix instead of being something innovative. I guess I expected a lot more from a film starring Guy Pearce, who is another favourite of mine. The last time I saw him was in First Snow, and that movie absolutely kicked ass. This one feels a little run-of-the-mill, but it has some good qualities. Check it out.

The Interview, on the other hand is great fun! It applies a film Noir approach to an Australian accent, which is at the same time patently ridiculous and completely brilliant. It is a Usual Suspects like mind-bender, but with the added ingredient of not handing the viewer all the answers in the end. It is a great twisty story, and Hugo Weaving is brilliant.

Finally, another film I have been wanting to see for a while: Redbelt. Mostly because the story just sounded good, but also because Chiwetel Ejiofor seems to be a good actor too. Of course, I have only ever seen him in Serenity and Children of Men, so I have no idea what kind of impression he makes in Kinky Boots and Dirty Pretty Things. Redbelt is good though. It is not the hard-core all out martial arts movie, but succeeds in showing much more of the inner struggle of the main character than a lot of hard-core martial arts movies try and display, plus it does have some pretty good fight scenes. Some people ditch it, others like it. I definitely like it!

peace out.

alarmism + ignorance = stupidity

Take the Conficker issue: no, it did not make the intertubes get up and strangle everybody. Neither did, if you will recall, the Y2k monster.

Surprise there, huh? Or not. The thing about alarmists that gets me is the fact that they prey on the ignorant and the naive. And every time an apocalyptic date passes by without incident, boy must they be laughing up their sleeves at the chaos they caused. What people miss is the fact that while they are laughing, they are counting the money they made, and are already planning the next hoax/heist.

So what are the warning signs I look out for when trying to judge whether someone has a valid point, or whether they are trying to see how high they can make me jump and how fast they can make me run in circles? Easy, it’s in the words they choose. When I see words like “crisis”, “urgent”, “doomed”, and the ever present “Click here!”.

Hey, what about that last one? See that one is the catch. They need to draw your attention, they need to inspire fear, and then they have to show you the way out. Because that’s how they make money. It is the classic “stick or carrot” strategy, except in this case it is the “stick AND carrot strategy”, but the truth is both the stick and carrot are fake. Every alarmist in every apocalyptic crisis claim (or claimed) that this one is going to take you down, and only by paying them lots of money can you save you, your belongings, your kids and your way of life.

But the alarmists are getting smarter. Apocalyptic dates are easy to deal with. Hunker down, watch the second hand roll over, cautiously stand up, and see that no, the world did not end. Phew. So these greedy pranksters have figured out that maybe we need to not mention dates, which almost makes the coming apocalypse more threatening, since it can strike tomorrow, or the day after, but maybe not for decades, but it is still coming!

This makes it easy for them to deal with an “apparent” calm time, because this will always be “the calm before the storm”. As in “did you think the last crisis was bad? There is an even bigger one, this is just the calm before it hits! Click here!”.

Pick You Apocalypse: Y2k, Terrorists, Supergerms, (and on the flipside) Vaccines, Oil Shortages, Solar storms, Global Warming… It is the same story every time. I am becoming a little desensitized to it all.

peace out.

Interactive Story Telling

Storytron, what a great idea. It’s like choose your own adventure on steroids.

I know, I know, they say it is not, but in a sense it is, just a finer grained version of it, without the action: “do you: pressure Saddam to give up” instead of “do you: stab the thief with the knife”…

It’s all very touchy feely, “levels” of “emotions” and “respect” (and other mushy nouns) going up and down the whole time. Very dynamic, very bold, and I think it is a great idea (said that already), great concept and it just might start a new subculture as big as IF.

I do however consider it a bit grandiose that they think they’ll capture the “women and men over 30″‘s market, which according to them is being ignored by most major game developers and companies. That assumption is true. But, fact is that specific market cannot give a good damn about computer games per se, it does not matter what guise the things take. The fact is simply that a lot of women and older men do not want to play computer games, since they don’t consider it fun and they won’t change their minds because you dress it up differently.

Your grandma, if she is still alive, will not put down her book and pick up the mouse to “play a game that is like a book” even if you paid her. She’ll continue reading her book. Or play with her Wii. Now those guys have figured out how to corner the older market, mainly because instead of sitting people down they have people stand up swing their arms. Not that I have to tell you that, but…

peace out.